“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Amputation Treatment

On Thursday February 14, Doctors in Al-Ribat University hospital in Khartoum-Sudan executed a court sentence of amputation of a man who was convicted of Brigandage. His right hand and left foot was cut off by doctors in the hospital. He is 30 years old and accused of robbery. According to the reports he stopped and robbed cars on the road threatening passengers with a rifle. It has been reported that this is the first time during past thirty years such a penalty (amputation) has been carried out in Sudan.

Sudan’s criminal law is based on Shari’a law. It should be mentioned that article 167 of Sudanese penal code of 1991 provides: Whoever threatens the public or troubles the security of the roads by menaces intending to commit an offence against human body, honor or property, provided the act is committed:-(a) Out of town, in land, sea or air or in town where help is difficult to get.(b) By use of arms or any instrument capable of causing harm or threat to cause such harm is said to commit Haraba.

Following that, article 168 states the punishment of Haraba as follow:

Whoever commits Haraba shall be punished with: - Execution or execution and thereafter crucifixion if his acts resulted in murder or rape (b) Amputation of the right hand and left foot if his act resulted in grievous bodily harm or theft of property which amounts to the required minimum (Nisab) for theft punishable with amputation (Sariqah Hadiya) (c) Imprisonment by way of banishment for a term which may not exceed seven years in cases not covered by paragraphs (a) and (b).

Sudan is a signatory to International covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Therefore it is obliged to eliminate laws and regulations inconsistent with Human Rights Laws. Amputation is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that should be removed from Sudan’s penal code. Universal Tolerance Organization asks the authorities in Sudan to reform such laws and respect fundamental human rights standards.

The most important question is how doctors could participate in such inhuman act. Doctors are said to protect people’s bodies, not to rip the body of a human a part. Doctors should not carry out such degrading punishments and safeguard human’s body and soul.

Source: Universal Tolerance Organization, March 3, 2013

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